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Listening Well

Posted by Connie Seale , in Orality 05 June 2018 · 271 views

This week as I spent time with local women, two of them shared some painful and difficult things that they are going through. As I listened and asked the Father for wisdom about how to respond, I was reminded that sometimes the best gift we can give someone is just to be a safe place for them to share what's on their hearts. I'm sure each of us has experienced receiving this gift and how it can help lighten our burdens, even if our situation doesn't change.


Later I was reflecting on the importance of learning to listen well. As much as we talk about learning to communicate using stories and other oral-based teaching methods, I think it's also key to learn how to listen as someone shares their stories or situations with us, whether they are serious problems or just about their daily lives. Here are just a few thoughts that came to mind about listening well to others' stories:

  • Learn about them: what's important to them, what they value, etc.
  • Listen for common themes in different stories that might point to deeper heart needs (what's under the surface in their story?)
  • Glean new cultural insights or customs
  • How they use expressions to communicate frustration, joy, disappointment, etc.
  • Listen for promptings from the Father on responding to what they share
This is not an exhaustive list and I am by no means an expert in doing this! But as I seek to communicate well TO oral preference learners, I also want to work on learning FROM oral preference learners as they communicate with me important topics and also seemingly mundane topics.

New to the Orality Blog?

An oral learner is:


Someone whose most effective communication and learning format, style, or method is in accordance with oral formats, as contrasted to literate formats.
Someone who prefers to learn or process information by oral rather than written means. (These are literate people whose preferred communication style is oral rather than literate, even though they can read.)
Someone who cannot read or write (this represents about 5% of the world's population).

Did you know?


There are an estimated 4.35 billion people who are oral learners. This includes 3 billion adults, 900 million very young children, and 450 million children between the ages of eight and fifteen; all of these have basic or below basic literacy skills. They are oral learners because of their limited literacy skills.
The vast majority of missions work has been done for a literate audience. Unfortunately the vast majority of the true audience is therefore not able to connect with the Gospel.
Oral cultures are very relational - they share their lives with one another.
Most oral cultures will communicate with one another in narratives, dialogues and dramas, proverbs, songs, chants, and poetry. When asked what he thought about a new village school headmaster, a Central African replied "Let's watch how he dances".

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ION  International Orality Network